BOLTON parents’ concerns about ‘loot boxes’ and other in-video game purchases have led to a call for the government review these ‘underhanded and predatory’ practices.
Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi has written to Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan urging her to act and also put down a Parliamentary Question about their impact on young people.
Several of her Bolton South-East constituents had contacted her about their fears for their children and other young people who play the online entertainments.
Now Ms Qureshi has asked Mrs Morgan at Westminster: “What steps are you taking to support research into the effects of gambling-like mechanics in video games on players, especially young and vulnerable players?”
The Labour justice spokeswoman has also written to the Cabinet minister expressing concern at the ‘ manipulative tactics used to coerce players into buying in-game purchases in video games’.
She highlights two: the use of ‘false scarcity’ to push people to buy immediately and act on the impulse of ‘get it before it is too late’ and ‘social coercion’ where players are told that their friends have bought in-game purchases and recommended to join them.
Ms Quereshi said: “Tactics such as these are unquestionably manipulative, underhanded and predatory. At the heart of this issue are so-called ‘loot boxes’ which players can buy with real money and contain ‘random’ in-game rewards’. Regardless of whether or not you call them gambling, they provide the same motivation as traditional gambling.
“I therefore ask you to review in-game purchases, their effects on young people.”
A spokesman for Mrs Morgan’s department said: “We take concerns about excessive behaviours and loot boxes in video games very seriously.”
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